Another wonderful kitchen gadget I was gifted this Christmas was a food dehydrator. I’ve casually mentioned the benefits of owning one, but honestly hadn’t given it serious thought. So I was very surprised and immensely grateful for this unexpected gift and more importantly the wifey’s vote of confidence that I am on the right track with the homesteading aspirations I’ve been so focused on the past two years. It can feel very much like I’m stumbling around in the dark trying to learn how to garden and preserve my own food and her encouragement is just what I needed to feel inspired over the long winter months ahead. Over the past several weeks I have practiced dehydrating potatoes, ginger, green beans, grapes, oranges, apples, and grapefruit. Dehydrating food is fairly simple to do and smells wonderful. On my to-do list is jerky (once I finish the Amish turkey jerky currently in my fridge), tomatoes, fruit leather, and crackers. I’m so looking forward to this simple way of preserving my next kitchen garden harvest, as it requires the least amount of effort.
On the topic of food preservation, over the past year I’ve grown pretty comfortable with refrigerator pickling and have also successfully canned several jars of summer ripened tomatoes, that are simple incredible to open up on a wintery night. A friend of mine recently tagged me on Facebook in a Bon Appetit video about fermenting chili peppers for homemade hot sauce. In fascination I watched the video half a dozen times, as any chili head might do, and am now determined to conquer lacto fermentation as well. Currently in my pantry sits my first experimental batch of hot peppers and cabbage, bubbling away hopefully working their lacto magic. Pretty soon I hope to have my first batch of signature hot sauce under my belt as well as a homemade batch of Sauerkraut. I’ve got a hell of a lot to learn yet, but every time I step into my pantry and burp those jars I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of excitement and pride.
Practicing this winter, I hope to have a better understanding of multiple techniques for preserving food by the end of the next growing season. With Amy’s handy wood working skills, I intend to enlarge my garden area with raised beds in my front lawn this spring and want to have several options for preserving my harvest for the winter months ahead. Still quite the novice, but confident I’m steadily progressing towards better self sufficiency in the kitchen, I am looking forward to spring like never before. I’ve even managed to infect the wifey with a bit of my homesteader fever and am looking forward to accomplishing this humble, yet immensely challenging endeavor of growing and preserving our own vegetables together. Before long, I will have more in depth details of my methods and hopefully several successful recipes to share.